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Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Hits Global Ticket Sales of $250M

LOS ANGELES — "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" pulled in an estimated $250 million at worldwide box offices through Friday.

The seventh "Star Wars" movie was also on track to finish its opening weekend with record U.S. and Canadian sales, the Walt Disney Co. said on Saturday.

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The film is projected to sell close to $220 million worth to tickets in the United States and Canada through Sunday, beating the record $208.8 million for "Jurassic World" in June, Disney said.

Disney's biggest worry has been that moviegoers will be too daunted by sold-out shows and long lines. More than $100 million advance tickets (also a record) were sold ahead of the opening of "The Force Awakens," much of those going toward Thursday and Friday shows.

Saturday and Sunday will depend more on traditional walk-up business. Hollis said exhibitors are continually adding more screenings to satisfy demand.

While "Star Wars" helped create the summer blockbuster, "The Force Awakens" is debuting in the holiday season of December, where the previous top opening was the $84.6 million debut of 2012's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

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By Disney's estimates, "The Force Awakens" — the widest December opening ever with 4,134 theaters — blew past that number by Friday afternoon.

Imax and 3-D screenings are helping to propel the record gross. Disney said that 47 percent of the Thursday box office came from 3-D showings and $5.7 million from Imax screens.

A lot is riding on the film for Disney, which paid $4.06 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012. Sequels and spinoffs are already in development for years to come, not to mention an entire corner of Disneyland devoted to the franchise.

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Strong reviews for the film, which is set 30 years after "Return of the Jedi," have added to the fervor for "The Force Awakens."

Critics have hailed it as a fan-friendly return to form for the franchise; the American Film Institute listed it among its top 10 films of the year.

Such a positive reaction for "The Force Awakens" may attract the kind of repeat viewings that made James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Titanic" the highest grossing films of all time.

Whether "The Force Awakens" can come close to the global hauls of those films ($2.8 billion for "Avatar" and $2.2 billion for "Titanic") won't be clear for weeks.